Panto review: Jack and the Beanstalk, Sion Baptist Church, Burnley

The cast of Sion Panto Society's "Jack And The Beanstalk"
The cast of Sion Panto Society's "Jack And The Beanstalk"

We had fireworks and thunder, custard pies and wonder when the curtain opened on Sion Panto Society’s “Jack and the Beanstalk” on Tuesday.

The children loved it, the adults joined in the fun and all the hard work from this enthusiastic church group paid off.

The Society has been producing pantos at Sion Baptist Church since 1971 and are already planning “Cinderella” next year! Times have changed - the jokes haven’t much - but there is something about panto that keeps drawing people back year on year. Probably because it is good family fun and all ages can join in and laugh together.

That is what they did on Tuesday which was opening night and a full house. My seven-year-old granddaughter was enthralled when Katie Dyer as sparkling Fairy Flora began to weave her magic by narrating the age old tale of good triumphing over evil, and slightly scared when the booming voice and loud sound effects of Giant Plunder, P.J. Hitchcock, nearly burst our eardrums.

There was certainly no problem hearing the dialogue, it was all larger than life and very loud, just like pantos should be. There were some good musical numbers which improved in quality as the panto went on and a few first night nerves were calmed.

But it was Giant Plunder’s evil wife Mrs Plunder, played by the excellent Marcia Turner, who is in danger of stealing the show this week, along with Emma Waters as Jack the giantkiller and Amy Tattersall as Princess Rose. They were all word perfect and really entered into the spirit of their characters.

And no panto is complete without its painted dame and her silly sidekick. Fitting the bill perfectly are Gordon Tattersall as downtrodden Mrs Trott and her son Silly Billy played by Mark Lawless.

They have been playing these type of characters for donkeys years and the audience always love them, especially when they start baking and the custard pies come out! I went home with the children’s shouts of “Silly Billy” every time Mark came on stage, still ringing in my ears. Angela Duckworth is just right as dippy Queen Beryl and Isobel Duckworth and Annabel Clegg were spot on as the tap dancing lovable Daisy the Cow.

So Sion have again produced an excellent family panto. Congratulations to directors Joanna Williams and Susan Layfield and producer Craig Needham who stuck to the traditional tale of Jack climbing the beanstalk to the giant’s lair to save everyone from the man-eating ogre and his evil wife. Well done the stage and technical team for lovely bright scenery, a brilliant beanstalk and lots of special effects, and I was impressed with the chorus and choreography, all rounded off with a grand finale and fireworks. It runs until Saturday in Sion Baptist Hall, £7 and £5 children, at 7-15pm and with a Saturday matinee.